Forcible religious conversions in Pakistan should be declared a crime, the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights said.

The chairperson, Nasreen Jalil, also acknowledged that this is an issue particularly affecting minorities, and that the blasphemy law is being misused.

During the meeting – held to consider suggestions to stop the misuse of the blasphemy law – she said that in light of a recent Supreme Court blasphemy decision, someone’s religion cannot be forcibly changed as all citizens should enjoy equal rights.

Nasreen Jalil condemned the Jhelum incident and said the way the country’s well-off are treated compared to the poor, demonstrated the double standards in Pakistan.

Aitzaz Ahsan told the meeting a law should banning forced conversion should be introduced.

He said minorities had provided great services to Pakistan and consultations should be held with the Ministry of Law about forced conversions.

Referring to the constitution of Pakistan, Senator Kabir Ahmed said it was the responsibility of the state to protect its citizens.